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Lesson Plan

Exchanging Ideas by Sharing Journals: Interactive Response in the Classroom

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Exchanging Ideas by Sharing Journals: Interactive Response in the Classroom

Grades 3 – 5
Lesson Plan Type Standard Lesson
Estimated Time Six 50-minute sessions
Lesson Author

Renee Goularte

Renee Goularte

Magalia, California


National Council of Teachers of English



Featured Resources

From Theory to Practice



Pairs of students respond to literature alternately in shared journals, responding to group read-alouds, independent reading, literature circles, or any instance that pairs of students are exposed to the same texts. After introducing the concept of literature response journals, the teacher models a basic exchange. Students brainstorm possible generic prompts for their journals, then practice an exchange with their partners. As students begin using the journals, mini-lessons are presented on responding to prompts, creating dialogue, adding drawings, and asking and answering questions. Students can choose their own partners, or partners can be teacher-assigned so that less proficient and more proficient writers can be paired.

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Sample Literature Response Prompts: Use these sample prompts to facilitate discussion of any work of literature.

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Interactive journals are valuable because they motivate students to develop their voices as "active speaker[s] and writer[s]" (303), and this active participation in making meaning of the texts that they encounter leads to deeper comprehension. Furthermore, because of the combination of drawing, writing, and reading, interactive journals are a valuable tool for ELL instruction. Because they allow students to "observe . . . classmates' oral and written interactions around literacy" interactive journals can be used to encourage and support ELL students as they "take more risks with [their] writing topics, content, and skills" (301).

Further Reading

Ruiz, Nadeen T., Eleanor Vargas, and Angélica Beltrán. "Becoming a Reader and Writer in a Bilingual Special Education Classroom." Language Arts 79.4 (March 2002): 297-309.

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